Thursday, October 8, 2015

do unto others...

Today was a bit different. I woke up with a headache in the back of my head- prolly the result of sleeping on one side for hours- actually sleeping like a log colloquially speaking.
So I had one crocin and then went back to bed for  a bit before getting ready for work. The maid came to my room woke me up and told me that last night someone entered her house and took away her Rs 6000 plus her mobile phone. What a shame! And you know what i did? I just said "Oh? Thats really awful" and turned over. She lives in a makeshift tenement and exists hand to mouth. But she is a very very happy individual and brings a certain kind of dignity with her that we have grown to respect.
I am ashamed and so I am writing this just to assuage my guilt. For her losing Rs 6000 is like me losing Rs 6 laks if not 6 crores- and i have been so insensitive.
Sometimes, time and circumstance weighs you down so much so that it becomes difficult to be human, to commiserate, to lend a shoulder.
But its not fair- its apalling to say the least. I should have asked her how she will manage the month since that must have been her livelihood money. Had a friend called me in the dead of the night saying  someone or something was bothering her, I would have picked up my car and rushed over, out of concern and a bit of social pressure. But this  poor woman reached out and I did not live up to her expectations. What am I becoming? A selfish insensitive old woman?
Today is a wake up call for me- I will never forget this feeling of guilt and it will prevent me from ignoring the needs of others- not out of compulsion but out of the belief that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.Until it happens to us we are unable to understand any pain or pleasure- empathize they call it. But if someone is reaching out, the least I can do is heed their need and apply myself appropriately. Notwithstanding that I have a heavy head and a churning mind. Today when I get home I am going to apologize to her and extend help.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rose buds....

I was getting late for work- i run a kitchen called My My Kitchen which cooks Mum in a Box meal every morning to start with, and then in the course of the day, graduates to the finer traditional and modern recipes to tickle the gourmet palate. As in, you can have the mum in a box for lunch and you can order a la carte for lunch or dinner or both.
It keeps me busy and happy. Its more a hobby than a profession for me, but the chef team at My My Kitchen is totally professional and qualified and often give me such amazing output that I get mesmerized; and so do my customers sometimes.They are so young and so hard working and so positive! Its a pleasure to spend the days at My My Kitchen.
So as I was saying I ran into the premise at 11.38 this morning and started with the first action i usually do- offer fresh flowers to Sai baba, Ganesha, Lakshmi, and in the process worship all.
I found rosebuds in the packet that the flower boy delivers here every morning. And those rosebuds smelt so much like the ones from my childhood- desi gulab we call it and it smells royal- you just have to touch it once and your palm smells so fresh and lovely. So royal. I always think rose smell is so royal- it takes me back to historic descriptions of rose petals in the bathtubs of princesses, or strewn on the beds of kings who came back from battle with a new princess as his wife whom he had won in the war. While this idea of winning princesses in wars may sound very feudal and  parochial, which it certainly is, but when stated as a ruler's strategy to consolidate his empire by bonding with another family, it also sounds cold and heartless... and loveless. I dont like it but they all did so way back then. ' If you can't lick them, join them"..... thats where this lesson was learnt, I guess.
So the rosebuds...
You know, I had an elder brother whom I never met- he passed away before I was born. But his memory as painted by my mother is so vivid that I almost met him I feel.And we had his pictures on the mantelpiece. So I know how he looked and smiled. My father never ever spoke about him but this I do know that he was insane with grief at losing him. He stopped going for New Years Eve parties ever since (my brother's birthday was Dec 31st) and stopped using perfume and would not share his grief with anyone.
So my brother was only one and a half years old when small pox took him away, due to sepsis and kidney failure. Such a baby he must have been and how he must have suffered. And how my parents must have suffered to see him go.
My mother had a garden always wherever she lived and she has a green thumb- everything she touches or plants, grows. Even without soil, in just water, she puts in croton stems and they grow roots. I sometimes wish she could have touched him thus and brought him back? But I also know that the number of breaths one takes are destined- no more no less.
Back to the rosebuds now. As a sister who met her elder brother through my mother's memories, I would go out into the garden every morning, pluck the bestest rose buds and offer them to my brother Nikki. It was to tell him that I love him and will always look up to him for help and care. The rosebuds would dissipate their fragrance around him and make me feel so warm and so loved.And he would be there smiling at me from his photoframe, waving a squiggly pudgy finger at something or someone.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2 disclaimers and 1 theory

The disclaimers first:
The views expressed herein are solely of the author, though not necessarily biographical.
The theory does not testify one particular case but is based on careful observations of multiple cases with similar outcomes. Includes friends, relatives, movie stars, public figures, politicians.

So guys, I do first what all do last. I have written the disclaimers. Now I can peacefully propound my theory without having to worry about people shaking their heads and saying, "nah! what does she think? whoever heard of such stuff and believed it to be true? not i not i." to which I have a very famous parallel from one of the most popular reading books of all times- Robin Hood..." who killed cock robin? who saw him die?"

So first it is diamonds and cadillacs (or some other very chic car or precious rocks that are in fashion now) and all summer moonshine and they are buying gifts for each other. This seems to get boring because the richer you grow the lesser is the significance of these gestures- you have the money at all times so why do you need to wait for an occasion to give a gift? Especially when you can do it everyday, or even twice a day. Or even more.

And you experience diminished value for the gifts given solely because you do not have the time to appreciate them. They lie on your dressing table or somewhere and gather dust. You do not use them because where is the time to douse that perfume or wear that dress? Sometimes the gifts just stop because there is no time for each other. And when the gifts stop coming you notice the gap. You then say that it doesnt matter as long as you love me, or you say that you miss those little gifts that used to bring stars in your eyes. It is always a delight to receive gifts, isnt it? You might just protest a wee bit so as not to sound greedy, but you loved those gifts because they told you that someone cares.

There are times when you tend to disgree on music or people or perhaps movies- then one day you realize that consensus on food ordering when eating out becomes more of a tussle. Its probably because you have forgotten what you like to eat together. its also because you have forgotten what your spouse/parent/child likes and you are rigid about your own preferences. Going out is rendered unpleasnt because you disagree on where to go and what to do. Watch a movi or sit at home and enjoy tennis tournaments? Go to a hill station over the weekend or plan a beach holiday? Or not go out at all and have a party at home?

 You sit up and wonder how to take this... is it alarming or am I overreacting? But what never happened in 22 years or 48 years or whatever years may happen now- its not easy but a foregone conclusion.The foregone conclusion is that you come home feeling estranged. Not hungry but dissatisfied. Not unhappy but worried. Not angry but alarmed. You still want to do things together but the enthusiasm is missing.

It is time for operation salvage. Enhanced sensitivity for each other; increased concern and care. What you have built up over these 22 years or whatever number of years may suddenly be feeling threatened. You may experience withdrawl or you may feel like retaliation. Of these, withdrawl is more dangerous. Retaliation still manages to assert itself and demand attention, but withdrawl is like slow poison. It makes you indifferent to the point of no return. Let things be, it says. who cares, it says. it doesnt matter, it says. Lots of times, retaliation is taken as very bourgeoise and LS while indifference is snobbish, HS and the in thing. But both are equally powerful tools for bringing a relationship to its logical conclusion.

We all live differently and we all die differently. The one thing common to all is the opportunity to make our lives worthwhile, which again, each one does differently. We listen to the whispers and get rid of grey areas. Or we ignore all whispers and dwell in ignorance. "who killed cock robin? Not I not I..."

Sunday, March 30, 2014


This was Saturday almost midnight.
I could hear a soft male voice telling someone to get all the relatives in. I could hear loud painful sounds telling me someone was really sick. There was a coded whisper on the walkie talkie she was carrying in her pocket, or maybe it was a pager.... and the pleasant lady attending me just dropped everything, said, "I will be back in 5" and went to the nursing station to find out what she was required to do.
I sat on the bed, with the half cotton half net curtains aound me, fully drawn as if to protect me from everything outside- but it could not drown the voices. I heard a child cry somewhere.  I then heard the oxygen cylinder drop with a crash! Oh My God who was on it, I wondered and peeped out of my brilliant white curtains. The boy in blue overalls and a mask ran to pick it up and spent a good 5 minutes trying to fix the regulator which had come off and rolled away under the third bed in the row... what if the patient is deprived of oxygen for those 5 mins and dies, I thought, so alarmed. But the uneducated, semi skilled man in blue overalls knew that he did not have to worry. The gas was flowing through for the patient, only the regulator needed fixing with a fist- he brought it down hard, and the regulator clicked into place. I sat back and heaved a sigh of relief mixed with dread. Had it been someone close to me who was inhaling that oxygen, I would have gone berserk. And would have doubted the gas supply efficiency, the correctness of the regulator  and the hospital's capability. But apparently the oxygen hungry soul had no one around- because I heard no admonishes and no protests and no commands to please change the apparatus.

I sat, my right hand in my left, waiting to be bandaged. Such a small thing as compared to what the people around me were going through. The pleasant lady dressing up my wound came back and hurriedly shed her gloves to put on fresh ones. She looked harried. "I asked her if today was a particularly busy day? "More sad than busy," she said, intent on getting the gloves on. I noticed a wedding ring on the third finger of her left hand- she was at work while her family was home this Saturday night. I thought of my Saturday nights which I did not like to share with any work- Saturday nights were meant only for fun and pleasure.

"Ouch! That hurt!" and also broke my reverie. The lady was trying to pull off my bandage in order to clean the blister and put a fresh one. I was in tears and she looked at me incredulously as if saying "shame on you! Crying over such a minor thing- one silly little blister because of your own carelessness in your own kitchen? Look at people around you- they are suffering from maladies totally beyond their control and comprehension. But they are taking it- even faking good health for the sake of their relatives.They feel like pits but they smile. They dont want to see anyone but they are courteous when people ask after their health. They go through descriptions of their illness some 10 times a day but they do not feel low- they still have faith that they will live and tide over this illness. Shame!"

From the bed I sat on, I could see the nursing station if I parted the curtains. A woman was there crying asking for her child to be resuscitated once again. The nurse on duty was holding her hand and telling her it was of no use... but the mother would not give up.

I looked at my hand- it had gotten better and the blister had turned a rich purple. The lady told me it was healing well. Suddenly I did not care. I did not even think of the plastic surgeon, nor the scar!I was hungry, happy, tired, angry, hurting, recovering, all at the same time. I was normal and revelling in my avatar as a human-  I suddenly wanted to make my sojourn on earth meaningful- not by doing all those fake little philanthropic gestures, but more by containing my own joys and sorrows. More by understanding that there are so many people I have to learn from. That my distress is small when compared to some distresses which defy description- imagine the mother begging the nurse to resuscitate her dead baby- I am sure she must have pleaded with her Gods and told them she would offer them a gift or sacrifice if that God brought back her baby. We all know there have been cases when people have pledged their wealth and whatever for God's favour. The Gods don't want it but we insist in the hope that the Gods will then listen to us. Thats funny but true at least in India.

So I walked to my car and drove to my workplace, asked the watchman to unlock the premise. He was surprised to see me there at this hour. I sat at my desk, called up home and told them I would be in office for half an hour after which I would come home. They must not worry I am fine.

But they worried and called every 5 mins. I realized what it is to feel loved. What if my oxygen cylinder had toppled?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

a breath of fresh air is the need of the hour

Thank God! At last there is a breath of fresh air- we are looking forward to India coming forward with energy and good cheer to spread the joy of young, practical governance.
Is this a mirage? We hope not. If it is, then all our flamboyant hopes will lick dust. Actually what are we hoping for? Not a bribe free India, nor a 100% above the poverty line population. I think we are hoping for a way of thinking and planning for the future, which is free from party bondage and age old ideologies, hierarchy and red tapism.
Some tell me that the youngsters are going to make mistakes! so havent the stalwarts made mistakes also? The unpardonable kind of mistakes? Have they not sold our country cheap? So cheap, that now today, there are no takers for anything Indian? Does it really help to know that the stalwarts have been making the same old mistakes all the years down; India became independent in 1947, and since then, we have been a melange of mistakes and heinous crimes. If I have to define my country, whom I love from the bottom of my heart, I will say it like this-" A beautiful country with beautiful people gone haywire because of a handful of bureaucrats and politicians who are so used to promoting their own ends, they forget when to stop for the larger good of the nation."
So as I was saying, I am very very hopeful of a positive turn in the tide which will propel us towards better governance, optimal welfare and minimal malpractices. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Happiness is what happiness does.........

Hi there Amrita Chakraborty! This one is for you... you got me thinking, and got me happy too!

So we were talking about how extremes of wealth and poverty can be happy together! Never mind the place or continent, they are just happy! I say I am happy when I earn two hours of consulting time! My counterpart frowns when she clocks just 12 hours in a day! she is prolly earning six times as much as me, but her definition of enough is rather different from mine. We are both as equally qualified as equally competent and also equally complacent, but happiness seems to be a state of mind- so we are not on the same platform for intrinsic feelings like happiness and joy....and 'enough'.

I pack in some dynamite when I use those 2 hours of consulting time- my friend also packs in a lot more of dynamite but laced with a sense of dissatisfaction which prevents that smile which perpetually is on my face. It is purely a  question of mind over matter- if you dont mind, it does'nt matter. Its not as if I am happy with less- but I look forward to more while being thankful for the less.

So whether we be in Asia or Africa, or even Australia or America, the advanced continents, it is immaterial. Our smiles are governed by those around us- havent we often commented that just because a killjoy happened to be around, we really could not have a good time? Attitude here seems to be the killjoy. And a historic melancholia which often overpowers the current euphoria! hey guys, i just got the right words- honestly, i couldnt have thought of a better phrase with my limited intelligence and painfully limited vocabulary. But just because I wanted to say something to you, I tried to say it just like I really want.

We cannot be happy on a hungry stomach. We cannot be happy being nurtured on hatred. Most people cannot be happy when they are confused and almost everyone doesnt like to feel cheated and used. Can you tell me why Humpty Dumpty had a great fall? Because eggs don't sit on walls! And if they do sit there they fall down, they break their heads! And their smile disappears! They are happy eggs till they fall down and break their heads!But eggs arent supposed to sit on walls, I say? They have to nestle in the cardboard rack. Or be incubated by Mother Hen. If I had written that rhyme, I would have prolly thought of  a metre which went like....
"Humpty dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
Egghead, didnt he remember at all
That eggs don't sit on all those walls?"(with apologies to the poet)

So what is a happy situation? For me, the post writer, it is "where the mind is without fear and the head is held high..."(Tagore, the illustrious Tagore) and never mind the killjoys around. But I cannot stay hungry, thats for sure.

It helps to know that 95% of the people I know share the same sentiment. But what are we doing about it? And the remaining 5% are never happy- those are the killjoys.We are actually continuing to promote unhappiness by logging on to unqualified 5% killjoy viewpoints and then latching on to them. We can hold our heads high only when we are convinced about what we are doing. Eggs should not sit on walls and even if they dare, they should be careful.

Knowledge is power, screams Economic Times, all the time! Secure in your knowledge quotient, you can dare to be happy. You can be without fear, only if you know. You can hold your head high, only if you know. You can smile, only if you know.Smash that ignoramus inside your head, get a scalpel and knife it away. Get that smile back, life's not so bad after all! The top 5% know it, the bottom 95% need to make an effort to rise above their current levels and learn to become the 6th-7th, 100th% on top!
Live happy, die happy! Keep smiling!